Adventures in CSA (winter week 1): value shift

First off, I know this is a long-delayed post. Sorry. Between being distracted by all that was going on with Penn State (my alma mater) and work and the kids and…just about everything else…by the time I got time to myself, I had just enough energy to play Angry Birds, and writing was just not in the cards.

Second, here’s where things start to downshift some in terms of value, and I’m starting to see that. We’ve been thrown off some in the last few weeks thank to a blizzard prompting a clean-out of some portions of the fridge, appointments that have screwed up our dinner planning…all kinds of things. And this is the big issue that I have with the fresh ingredients that you get from a CSA: what are you supposed to do when you have diminishing time to prepare ingredients from scratch? So, our use of the CSA hasn’t been as high as it could’ve been lately. And this is where things get to be lower value for us, because we’re not getting the use of the items the way we should (our fault) and we’re not saving a ton of money due to the type of items that are included.

This hasn’t soured me on the idea of the CSA, but it does make me wonder whether I would go in on a winter share again.

Here’s the breakdown on the prices for week 1’s box:

Winter CSA Week 1
Grocery Store Unit Price
(per lb)
Grocery Store Total Item Cost
Purple Kale* 0.85 $1.29 $1.10
Bok Choi 3.25 $1.29 $4.19
Comice Pears 0.87 $2.99 $2.59
Carrots 1.51 $0.99 $1.49
Red Potatoes 1.09 $1.49 $1.62
Parsnips 0.81 $2.49 $2.02
Butternut Squash 2.54 $0.79 $2.01
Yukon Gold Potatoes 0.96 $0.99 $0.95
Macintosh Apples 2.57 $1.19 $3.06
Yellow Onion 0.30 $1.49 $0.44
Grocery Store Total Cost $19.48
Winter CSA Week 1 Savings (Deficit) ($0.52)
* Items were not available; closest equivalent was used.

Some of the lower financial value has to be in the items that are included; potatoes, apples, etc. tend to be less expensive items. Amusingly, carrots are the only item that I’ve been the price stay static at $0.99/lb throughout the entire run of the fall CSA and thus far through the winter CSA. Given how other things seems to shift, I wonder why it is that carrots remain virtually fixed in place, price-wise?

I’m wondering whether others find that their winter CSA programs are worth what they put into them, or if it’s just ours that seems to be of lower financial value. It may also be where we are – what you can get in a box in Southern New England during the late fall and early winter may just be stuff that’s less expensive than what you can get in the Southwest or Southeast?

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